27 May

Gold in the Shadow

As you may know, the shadow is a mental complex defined by Carl Jung as all those parts of our personality rejected by the ego (the ego being defined as the focal point of consciousness). So, the characteristics, feelings, and tendencies that we deny (generally with moral indignation) as being contained within us, usually make up the shadow. The shadow can be “negative/dark,” or “positive/light.” We can deny that we possess qualities we find objectionable, as well as qualities we long for or admire. In this blog post, when I refer to shadow, I will mostly be referring to the repressed and despised “dark” parts of ourselves. Like these:

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Created with Nokia Smart Cam      IMG_20160527_131808

In the “Consciousness Community,” I often see a resistance to “Shadow Work.”

Created with Nokia Smart Cam

I get it.

Because we are trying to balance and marry the feminine and masculine energies after centuries of masculine dominance and rule, many of us have rejected what we see as the very real darkness inherent in masculine hierarchy and subordination of the feminine. What we want now is cooperation, goodness, and light. Instead of a true marriage of the opposites, many of us have refused to look at the dark side of the feminine principle, and insist on “focusing on the positive.”

SC Card leo

And there are all kinds of teachings and pithy sayings that support this way of seeing, such as “Like attracts like,” “What you think about you bring about,” and a shallow reading of “As a man (or woman) thinketh in his heart, so is (s)he.” The assumption, I think, is that if we focus on the beauty around us, then evil will just disappear…like…magic!

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And while part of me (as evidenced above) believes in and loves magic, until we are able to break through the duality of this thought form, realizing all is part of the ONE, we won’t be able to make any real transformation, whether it be personal transformation or change for our world. We’ll continue to project the evil “in here” onto the evil “out there.”

There are all kinds of maps and charts that document the journey from our individual and collective slumber to being “awakened.” I like Spiral Dynamics:  http://psychology.wikia.com/wiki/Spiral_Dynamics  and the simpler and new-to-me “Stages of Spiritual Consciousness” created by Dr. Michael Bernard Beckwith:  http://blog.mindvalleyacademy.com/spiritual-growth/michael-beckwith-on-the-4-stages-of-spiritual-growth

All of the maps in every tradition affirm the necessity of moving through the dark night, of facing our demons, of learning to embrace our flaws before the dawning of the light.

One of the best known of these maps is in narrative form: The hero’s (and heroine’s) journey is rife with monsters and dragons to slay. It’s not all goodness and light. The way to the Grail or Enlightenment is through the dark forest, not around it.

Of course there’s a natural fear that if we go into the darkness it will consume us. But if we give in to that fear and refuse this leg of the journey altogether, staying on our light side of the forest and calling admittedly beautiful and addicting states of consciousness “enlightenment,” we’ll never taste of a True Unitive Consciousness. Maybe you are satisfied with that. Lots of people are. It can be a fun place to be, manifesting all over the place and projecting our darkness onto “those people.” But I’m not satisfied with staying there anymore. I can see too much of my own hubris, my own greed and lust for power, my own darkness. I want it transformed.

So, shadow work is an important part of any transformational work, and of Altar Ego, where shadows are welcomed, explored, and transformed for our good and the good of all.

For all of you positivity junkies out there, just know that on the other side of the dark forest and the dark night, there is beauty and light! More luminous than luminous! Jung called it the Gold in the Shadow. So far in my experience, it’s worth the trip (and I’m not talking about dour-sour faced wandering here – there’s a LOT of laughter along the way! Sometimes healing is a very funny business!).

One of my favorite ways to sneak up on shadows is through the process of SoulCollage®, where we explore not only the darkness, but also the gifts of Shadow Work (I’ll hold another SoulCollage® shadow workshop on August 1st, see the event calendar for info).

Here are The Gifts of Shadow Work (and some of the archetypes in my personal SoulCollage® cards that represent them):

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  • You will connect to your life’s purpose, step into leadership and into the power to bless and support yourself and others, and increase your ability to make powerful choices. This is the direction of the Queen in her positivity.

 

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  • You will gain perspective, find solutions to problems, understand patterns in your life and transform them, and learn about your relationship with Trust. This is the direction of the Light Bearer with awareness.

 

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  • You will set and hold healthy boundaries, achieve goals, be in service to self and others, and gain confidence and power. This is the direction of the Warrior standing in her truth.

 

  • IMG_20160527_132357You will open up to emotions, a deeper capacity to love and let love in, claim creativity, and listen to the wisdom of your body. This is the direction of the Lover in her openness.

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~My husband, Matt says: Bring a flashlight.  🙂

~Love and Light!    😉        IMG_20160527_133338                                                                           Julie

 

27 Apr

Money Makes the World go ‘Round?

Altar Ego began as a dream I had about using my talents as best I could, and following the lead of the Divine to create a beautiful and comfortable space where spiritual journeys could be shared. It seemed pretty straight forward. And I thought, if not now, when?

But it was a scary proposition. Two years ago I was still in my internship for spiritual direction, and it felt overwhelming to add more to my plate. And, I thought, who am I to deign to be a leader when I am obviously somewhere in the muck of my own path? But I felt the longing and the leading so strongly. So through much prayer and discernment, I rented a space and started holding workshops designed for spiritual growth.

And that’s what I’ve been doing. One directee, one spiritual growth group and one retreat or workshop at a time, I’ve been building this thing…this idea…this small business.

Ah, there it is…the cringe. I still have a gut reaction when I call this thing I do a business. I was raised in a faith tradition where  “church work” was very seperate from “career work.” Where it was assumed that anything you did for the church (i.e. spiritual work) was volunteered. You wouldn’t even think of being paid for it! It was God’s work, and being paid would cheapen it somehow.

Add to that the very real debate in the spiritual direction world regarding charging for spiritual direction services. Some very reputable seminaries teach that spiritual direction is a calling, and should be offered without charge.  Other (also reputable) seminaries teach classes on how to market your services.

But what if Wayne Dyer never charged for his wisdom? I’d have never heard it. And I can’t imagine where I’d be now if I’d never had a chance to hear him . Or Ekhart Tolle?  What if Oprah Winfrey never charged for the work she did? I’d have had a tough time folding laundry in the nineties. And how would she help the girls in Africa? What if Father Ure didn’t earn his living by teaching hundreds if not thousands the art of spiritual care at St. Mark’s hospital? Where would I be? Where would we all be?

Traditionally, spiritual directors didn’t have to charge directees (an awkward word, but client is also weird for SD) for their services because they were priests and nuns…and they were suported by the church. But if they hadn’t had the church’s support there would never have been spiritual direction in the past, either.

There has always been an exchange of energy. Even if it was a live chicken for a tea leaf reading from the wise woman down the lane or a day’s work for the shaman’s guidance.

So, I’ve been sending mixed signals to the Universe. On one hand, I consider this work to be a calling, and I would do it anyway, because, well, I’ve been called. On the other hand, if I didn’t try to make a living at this I’d have to do something else, too. Therefore, limited and divided time. Because, money.

I’ve done a lot of work to become comfortable with exchanging energies (money for services). There’s a whole (money making) industry built around helping people, especially women, to clear blocks regarding money, and I’ve worked pretty darn hard to clear mine. Heck, even the modalities I teach are useful tools for this clearing. And I’ve come a very long way.

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SoulCollage® Card: The Energy of Money

So, why do I still cringe sometimes when I tell people I have a spiritual direction business? If I fear judgement, that’s what I’m going to get…If I offer my work in the spirit of mutual exchange, that’s what I’m going to get. And at this point on my journey, I get both. Don’t even get me started on the question of how much to charge! Which tells me I still worry sometimes about what others think…which is fodder for another blog for another day. 🙂

Jesus (as understood by Paul) did not say that money, or even the love of it, is the root of all evil. There are, sadly, a great many forms of evil at work in the world all around us that have nothing at all to do with money. What he said is that the love of money can take root in our hearts and our minds so that we become blinded by the possessions, prestige and power that can come with it and we make decisions that take us farther and farther away from God’s will and from the plan for our lives. It’s not the money: it’s the attachment.

I pray that I might do my work and accept the good that I attract, whether it be monetary or another form of good. And that I will be a good steward of whatever comes my way. May I remember the original idea: to create support and inspiration for those who come to me as they travel their spiritual paths. And to be ever listening for God’s will in all of this.

So, I’m not hanging up this idea. This business idea. I intend to serve and support as many beautiful seekers as God and my joyous “Yes” can provide. So I also pray I will get through and beyond what I believe to be a pretty normal part of this growth path I’ve chosen. I will keep on keepin’ on. And since you are getting in on the ground floor, as it were, you will have a front row seat to Julie’s Growth Journey. Growth in many areas, not least of which is getting out of my own way when it comes to money.

How do you see money? Filthy lucre? The answer to your problems? An energy of exchange?

Blessings on your path,                                                                                                                                       ~Julie

 

08 Apr

The Balancing Act

Every January, I pick a personal word for the coming year. This year I chose the word “Grow.” Which is not a surprising word for me. A quest to be better, to always be learning, to never be satisfied with the status quo…well,  it’s my personality type (enneagram 3/INFJ), and it’s part of my pioneer heritage to keep moving no matter the obstacles. Personal, psychological, and spiritual growth is where I live and breath and have my being (just ask my kids)!

When challenges come up for me, I’ve got a plethora (love that word; plethora, plethora!) of quotes, songs, and mottos swirling around in my head to keep me going. Like this one:

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And there’s this: Rocky Theme Song

And this: I’m Gonna be Somebody

And my all-time favorite is: with God possible

(With that one, in my head there’s an add-on. I always hear Wayne Dyer saying, “you tell me what that leaves out!”)

But I get tired. I have to remind myself again and again that it’s all about the journey, not just the destination (altaregojourneys.com-duh!)! I pride myself in my ability to see not just black and white, but  shades of gray…but forget the color! The color!

What about pleasure? What about fun? What about what the Universe is offering me right in this moment?!

I have this great SoulCollage® card, pictured above (one I pulled to consider before writing this blog post).  It shows a man who’s so caught up in creating what’s in his head – good things, beautiful things even – that he’s missing the beauty that’s right in front of him: A gorgeous, colorful rainbow! A gift offered right in that moment!

There’s a blind woman in the collage who can’t see the rainbow, but is wise enough to experience it  through her child companion. She plays music. She feels the wind on her skin. I’ll bet she stops to smell roses. The woman and the child experiencing more Grace – more joy! – than the sighted man of ambition.

Life is to be enjoyed, not endured.

So  I’m heading out of town with some of my fun-loving friends. They aren’t frivolous women; they are definitely women of substance. And they know how to let their hair down and get into their bodies. Eat good food, dance, stay deeply present. And for a person who can’t stand small talk, there will be satisfying conversation and insight. That’s what I intend to do this weekend.

But I’m not waiting until tomorrow…I’ll start right now. I’ll savor this beautiful morning. I’ll laugh with my partner. I’ll take Haku (my one-eyed shih tzu companion) for a walk. I’ll take in the pink blossoms and the azure sky. And I’ll get my hair done!

I’m not forgetting my dreams and goals. I’m too steeped in growth processes and maps of consiousness to get that happy-go-lucky! My yearly word will remain “Grow.” But life’s a great balancing act. I’ll continue trying to balance determination with beauty and will with grace. And remember that with God all things are possible (you tell me what that leaves out!). 😉